Tooth be told

Aug 30, 2022
This seasoned blogger takes a look at dentistry over the years, and how the only fear she has of going to the dentist, is the cost. Source: Getty

There is absolutely no reason why I should fear going to the dentist. Apart from one small issue.

The cost.

Despite dutifully brushing and flossing my pearly pegs, I seem to have spent a fortune on my teeth. Mainly due to spending a good part of my life, like the proverbial ostrich hoping that the nagging little toothache would magically disappear.

It never did…

I love my dentist, she’s in her 60s and I’m not sure what on earth I’ll do when she retires as she’s like a wonderful mother figure for me, soothing my quite pathetic nerves each time I visit.

Although we are roughly the same age it must be said!

I’m 60, so my recollection of dentistry is definitely coloured by my past.

I do remember feeling a little bit fascinated by my grandparents’ false teeth.

My mum’s parents lived with us when we were children, and at a certain point in the evening, would remove their bright pink, gum-colored dentures and give them a good washout with Steradent before retiring them to the bathroom cabinet.

This resulted in an interesting good night conversation involving quite a lot of lip movement and gum gnashing.

Didn’t bother us, my sister and I still enjoyed the lovely goodnight hug and kiss from our much-loved grandparents.

My grandma, quite naughtily considering the situation, on one occasion, gave my sister and me a little lollie when she kissed us goodnight after we had brushed our teeth.

This resulted in one of the worst arguments I ever heard between my grandma and my mother. Mum trying hard to do the right thing (she was always big on dental health), Grandma wanting to be kind to us, and with a tiny streak of naughtiness (till the day she died).

In my childhood, I had a total fear of dentists. Particularly after a visit when I was seven and living in Glasgow, Scotland.

The dentist shaved down three front teeth to replace a small chip in the middle tooth and make a bridge to sort it out after a playground accident. No soft playground surfaces back then.

I had face-planted into concrete after flying off a conical ‘witch’s hat’.

This lengthy process involved the use of a gas mask, and me waking up screaming in complete terror. Gives me the collywobbles thinking about it to this day.

My current dentist (true story) actually shed a tear when I explained why my three front teeth were capped for a tiny chip in one of them. Dentistry has moved on exponentially in the last 50 years!

But life happens. I didn’t even care. We didn’t at seven, did we? When did we start caring about how we look? I happily went to school with a little chipped front tooth for at least a year.

Unfortunately, many of us seem to care a lot earlier these days – even little children have a strong sense of their appearance in their photo selfies. How much easier were our lives back then?

But now dentistry has thankfully moved on to great heights.

Seniors no longer only have the choice of dentures or gaps and can enjoy a myriad of dentistry offerings to repair and replace our ageing teeth. We now can have bridges, caps, fillers, and even implants.

The problem is that all these things cost a fortune!

If you have private health insurance it can take a little of the sting out of it, and it is worth asking around because some companies offer good value basic cover.

Using a comparison site to get the best deal can be helpful. Some companies can markedly reduce the cost of major dental work, especially if you use one of their own dentists.

At the end of the day, we now have excellent dental care, dental products, and opportunities to look after our teeth throughout our lives.

From electric sonic toothbrushes and bio-degradable dental floss to anti-bacterial mouthwashes and mini piksters for those hard-to-reach places.

You can now have ‘teledentistry’ (thanks pandemic). Now, unlike the painted ceiling of my own lovely dentist, some clinics even offer virtual or augmented reality headsets to wear and immerse yourself into another world (think walking along a beautiful ocean beach), while an all the less pleasant activity is going on beneath.

Even 3D printing will eventually reduce the cost of those expensive bridges and caps. Advances in biotechnology will allow tissue engineering in the future for whole teeth or repairs on the spot. I’m hoping that will be in my lifetime!

The cheapest way to make sure you don’t have eye-wateringly huge bills though is to floss and brush often and have regular dental check-ups of both gums and teeth for preventative care.

That way, truth be told, little problems don’t have to grow into expensive big ones!

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